Greetings. I'm an author currently working on a novel in which a character goes into a coma after a traumatic car accident. As such, I would like to ask an expert so that I am not portraying this severe medical condition inaccurately, and I'd like an answer a bit more detailed than my initial searches have given me. I realize this isn't entirely stroke related, but I wish to better understand what I am dealing with so I do not misinterpret my research. If this topic is inappropriate for this forum, simply alert me and I will post elsewhere.
1. What typically causes an individual to go into a coma?
2. Is it possible for a physical injury to cause an individual to go into a coma, such as a car accident? If so, how severe would their injuries need to be, and where would they need to be injured? I'd like this to be as specific as possible so that the dialogue with the character's doctors is believable.
3. Does a coma patient always have brain damage, or is it possible to be comatose without it?
4. On average, how long is a patient comatose?
5. Can a comatose individual hear sounds in the outside world, such as conversations, or is it simply an extended sleep? How 'conscious' are these patients?
6. Generally, how serious is the prognosis for a comatose patient?
7. Is there a way to aid the patient in 'waking up'? Or is it a waiting game?
8. If the patient wakes up, are there any side effects? Short term? Long term? Does the body sustain damage from the coma itself, or is it limited to the factor that put them into a coma in the first place?
9. Is there a time limit until the patient is considered a 'lost cause'? Or does it vary by case?
I appreciate the assistance, and as I said, please alert me if this post is inappropriate for this forum. I have no issue with removing it nor any desire to unwittingly break the rules of this community. Thank you.